SIDNEY — Shortly after the attack commenced and gunshots rang out felling the lone attacker on the Ohio State University campus Monday, the ripple effect reached Shelby County in short order. Several took steps to contact friends and family. Others feel while such criminal acts cannot be totally prevented, but the local training and awareness in these incidents is improving.
As reported, the Buckeye Alert communication system initiated the first public alert by text at 9:56 a.m. Someone had driven a car onto the curb and into a group of people near Watts Hall, an academic building located near 19th and College streets on the north side of the sprawling campus.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., the same notification route was used to notify people the scene had been secured.
Debbie Brown, Agricultural and Natural Resource Educator with the Ohio State University Office in Sidney, said she and two other office members simultaneously received the first text notification. The office located at 810 Fair Road, adjacent to the county fairgrounds, was not put on any special alert or lockdown status.
Brown said an employee was constantly monitoring the media coverage and kept staff updated. Another began contacting their child who is a student at the university.
“The first message told there was an incident and that a suspect had been taken. The last contact (at 1:32 p.m.) we got was from (OSU President) Michael Drake who said the scene was secured and police continued to process the area,” she said.
Officials at the branch campus of Ohio State University at Lima received the same notifications, but were not put on further alert or lockdown protocol. Pam Joseph, Director of Community and Public Relations, said officials determined the incident to be a localized incident in Columbus.
Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart and Sidney Police Chief William Balling said their offices did not receive any specific notification regarding local protocol of protecting OSU locations. Both agreed it had been determined the incident only impacted the immediate area of the campus.
Lenhart reiterated that educating the public about such incidents and how to react is paramount. He noted that even highly-trained officers need time to respond.
The sheriff said being prepared is a must do. He spoke of the fourth year of School Resource Officers training staff members of local school districts. Currently, such officers are in the Anna, Houston, Fairlawn, and Sidney City school districts. Other schools have multiple staff members trained in providing an armed response, if the need arises.
“No matter how quick a department can respond, they still need 3-4-5 minutes to arrive at the scene of a shooting after we have been notified. If somebody doesn’t stop that person, they (the shooter) is going to kill a lot of people,” Lenhart said.
He continued, “We have statistics that after the first shot is fired, every 17 seconds a person is killed or injured until they are stopped. That’s a lot of people and we are continuing to protect against that.”
Sidney Community Resource Officer Mike McRill was unavailable for comment Monday. However, the SDN has published reports on recent public sessions regarding techniques to minimize the number of casualties. His message has been to commit to possibly facing the threat firsthand, if forced to do so.
Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst, a 1979 OSU graduate, lamented that such deadly incidents that are part of today’s society. He and his wife walked the campus just weeks ago prior to a Buckeyes football game noting so much has changed since he was there.
“I remember riots in downtown Columbus if Ohio State lost to Michigan (in football). But those seem pretty tame compared to what happened today. For somebody to go after someone who is defenseless, what does that say about them or what they are trying to say.”
Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann said her niece is a student at The Ohio State University and was reported to be safe. Ehemann said OSU is “one of the largest campuses in the country and we shouldn’t be too surprised of this happening. With a school that large, stuff is going to happen.”
Those injured in the attack included an Ohio State faculty member, four graduate students and three undergrads, according to the Associated Press.
Authorities say the officer who killed an attacker at Ohio State University was a university police officer who’d been on the job for less than two years.
The AP reported, Department of Public Safety Director Monica Moll identified the officer as 28-year-old Alan Horujko. She says he started on the Ohio State police force in January 2015.
Ohio State Police Chief Craig Stone says it was fortunate there was a nearby gas leak that the officer had gone to investigate. Stone says it helped position Horujko to respond to the attack so quickly.